American Medical News ceases publication after 55-year run

A dramatic drop in medical-publishing revenues has resulted in the closure of American Medical News, effective with this final edition of the newspaper.

Published for more than five decades, AMNews was hit hard by industrywide trends. The newspaper’s revenue fell by two-thirds during the last decade, said Thomas J. Easley, senior vice president and publisher of periodic publications at the American Medical Association.

“Over a 10-year period of time, we were not able to generate an operating surplus for AMNews,” Easley said. “For some of those years, we were closer to break-even, and in others, we were further away. The last three years saw us get further and further from reaching break-even.”

My very last article in American Medical News. Read the whole shebang.

Patients improve test compliance by considering health impact

It is impossible for physicians to diagnose and treat patients who are unwilling to get recommended screening tests because they are scared of what the results might mean. Yet such behavior, which experts dub health-information avoidance, is common. Previous research has found, for example, that as many as 55% of people tested for HIV never return to learn the results.

A combination of factors drives this self-defeating behavior, health psychology researchers say. This “defensive avoidance” comes about because patients fear that test results would threaten their sense of self, make them feel bad or require lifestyle changes. But new research shows that prompting patients to first think about the potential implications of learning their risk of disease can improve their willingness to follow through with testing by about 50%, according to a study posted online July 10 in the journal Psychological Science.

My latest in American Medical News. Read the whole shebang.

Small doctor groups using IPAs to deliver care management

As physician payment increasingly shifts away from fee for service toward pay for improved quality outcomes, pressure is growing on small, independent doctor groups to keep pace with health-system owned practices.

One way to do that, suggests a study published in August, is for smaller practices to join together and pool resources for chronic disease-management services that can help doctors deliver better care for their patients.

My latest in American Medical News. Read the whole shebang.

Doctor-assisted suicide laws pose hospice care dilemmas

Three states now have laws allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients. These laws in Oregon, Vermont and Washington — and similar proposals elsewhere — have generated heated debates about quality end-of-life care, medical ethics, patient autonomy and the sanctity of life.

Most of that conversation has centered on the physician’s role, the potential for elder abuse and whether patients seeking doctors’ aid in dying are mentally ill. Yet there is another health care setting — hospice care — that plays a central role in how death-with-dignity laws are enacted but that has been largely ignored, said an article in July’s Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

My latest. Read the whole shebang.

Shut down

Yesterday, the American Medical Association announced that it will shut down American Medical News — where I’ve worked as a reporter since 2005 — effective Sept. 9. Our last day in the office will be Aug. 28. Here’s a largely accurate Chicago Tribune report.

Which means that as of the end of the month, I’ll be free to bring my talents to your fine organization. If you (or someone you know) are in need of temporary or ongoing assistance from a top-notch writer, editor and communicator with deep experience reporting for sophisticated audiences, please get in touch:


Here is my LinkedIn profile.

Quality initiative nets modest drop in readmissions

A recent study found that a hospitalist-developed set of tools had success in preventing unplanned readmissions. The finding suggests that hospital-centered readmission-reduction initiatives can yield promising results, but health policy experts said that major cuts in rehospitalization rates may happen only when future efforts do a better job of addressing risk factors outside the walls of the hospital.

My latest. Read the whole shebang.

More hospitals earn good grades for LGBT-friendly policies

This year has seen a sharp rise in the number of hospitals adopting policies aimed at ensuring equality in the treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients, physicians and other health professionals, according to a report issued in July.

A record 718 health care facilities, mostly hospitals, participated in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “Healthcare Equality Index” in 2013, up from 407 facilities in 2012. The foundation is the nonpartisan arm of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group in Washington. There are 5,724 registered U.S. hospitals, according to the American Hospital Assn.

My latest. Read the whole shebang.